Weird, Random, and/or True: Water + Work Edition

I’ve done posts like this a few times now and they’re always a lot of fun to write. Among other things, I’ve confessed to putting salt on my watermelon, explained my aversion to taking baths, and discussed Pogs. I also will never willingly pop a balloon. Here are a few more random tidbits for your Wednesday morning…

  • I hate the sensation of water splashing on my face. Full submersion underwater (i.e. when swimming) is fine, but the thought of putting my face under a running shower makes me shudder. I also never, ever splash water from a sink onto my face. I have to use a damp (never soaked) cloth to wash my face. And when I shower, I wipe water off my face constantly.
  • Sticking with the theme of showering, I hate showering with the overhead lights switched on in our main bathroom. Specific and odd, I know. During the day it’s very bright (we have a big window), and if I shower at night I turn on a nightlight by the sink. If I use our basement shower stall, the room is windowless and I have no choice but to use overhead lights, but the shower stall is self-contained so it doesn’t feel super bright. In that context, the lights don’t bother me at all.
  • True or false: I almost died on a mudflat? Ding, ding, ding – this one is true. I spent every summer during my undergraduate degree working in a lab; three of those years I was involved with intertidal research. One time I was assisting a Master’s student who collected samples all over New Brunswick. One of his study sites was a particularly “soupy” and isolated mudflat. Three of us had gone out to collect samples from this particular location and while walking, all of a sudden – without warning – I found myself chest deep in mud. It was the consistency of chocolate pudding and there was nothing solid under my feet. It took about 20 minutes to get me out (I ended up “swimming” through the mud). Mudflats get completely submerged by incoming tides and after the first 10 minutes of unsuccessful attempts to extricate me, I was ready to start crafting my own eulogy. Obviously, they managed to get me out but it was a memorable – and scary – experience!
This picture is NOT from the day I “nearly died” but it gives you an idea of just how dirty we would get.
  • A few months ago we were hiking a local woods trail and Levi spotted some chickadees. He was enamored – obviously, they’re adorable – and I said: They sure are cute, but do you know they get aggressive when caught in a net? (Fair enough; I would, too!). I proceeded to tell him that I used to catch birds, Semipalmated Sandpipers to be specific. Unlike chickadees, sandpipers go completely limp – almost comatose – when they’re handled and banded. Sandpipers are such incredible birds; they double their weight in about 2 weeks (maxing out at ~30 grams) feeding primarily on tiny amphipods (Corophium volutator) before flying non-stop for about 2,500 miles. My own undergraduate research project was all about those little amphipods because if sandpipers don’t have a food source…they can’t fuel up for their annual migration!
Letting them go after data collection/tagging.
  • One last sandpiper story. You have to catch them when they’re roosting at high tide (once the mudflat is exposed by the receding tide, they scatter to feed and you’d never be able to catch them). You set up a net in the location of choice and then hide/wait. A lot of bird species have colour intimidation; for sandpipers a big offender is red. Guess what newby showed up wearing a bright red shirt? Me. It was my first time on site and I was hiding way down the beach, living my best life while watching 100,000s of birds fly in formation together – one of the coolest experiences of my life. And then, over the walkie-talkie, my little team heard a 40-year veteran of the research group (who was manning the net) start yelling: Who is that —- wearing red? I literally had to crawl off the beach in shame… and never wore red (or any bright colours) again on a day we were catching birds!

Your turn. Feel free to share any of your weird/random/true stories. Any odd near-death experiences? Do you care if water gets splashed on your face?

31 thoughts on “Weird, Random, and/or True: Water + Work Edition”

  1. I love the mix today! I could not do the mud flat. I have a huge aversion to being “mucky”. Whether it is crafts with glue, paints and bit of glitter to mud, slime. All of that feels ew.
    That would have been scary to sink so much into the mud flat. Did you have a hard time going back out again?
    On a completely off topic note: What e-reader did you get? I’ve been looking at Kobo but why is there so many versions?!

    1. I got used to the mud very quickly; it was such a nuisance to clean off feet (I started by wearing scuba booties, but cleaning those was a nightmare, so I just sucked it up and my feet were TOUGH by the end of each summer from stepping on rocks and shells), but other than that – it was actually really fun! Now that I’m a mom, I have a viseral reaction to things like this, though, since it’s VERY different cleaning up a mess on/for someone else. So I have no desire to get dirty and, like you, am NOT a fan of glitter, slime, glue or anything else that is slimy and impossible to clean.

      I don’t remember being worried for long, but the first time back to that particular mudflat I was wary for sure. Mudflat consistencies vary dramatically. The mudflat where I collected data for my honour’s project had a very, very firm mud (like some parts were almost like walking on pavement) and I actually used to go collect samples by myself which was…likely not wise. Sigh. 10 minutes away, another mudflat was soft and soupy. Some mudflats were long and flat; the one where I collected data had HUGE gullies. Like you could have 2-3 adults standing on each other’s shoulders and they’d still be hidden. That was always a bit daunting because if the tide started coming in it would require swimming across these giant channels to get back to shore.

      I got a Kobo Aura One. It was second-hand, so I don’t know anything about the history of it, but so far it has been AWESOME! Great battery life and connects well with Overdrive here in Canada.

  2. Wow, that mudflat story is scary! It reminds me of The Princess Bride when they get stuck in the lightning sand! Except I bet Westley did not dive in and rescue you from the mud! I never even knew that it would be that deep along the shores, but I have definitely stepped on what I thought was solid on a trail and gone up to my calf in mud, so I can see how it would be possible!

    Random: I don’t think I ever had a real blueberry until I was in my…20s? 30s? Where I grew up we had blackberries growing everywhere but I never remember having a real blueberry. Maybe our stores did not import as heavily as they do now, or maybe they were too expensive. We definitely had blueberry muffins made from a box, which I loved, but I remember having a nice juicy blueberry recently and thinking that I guess this was never a thing when I was a kid! Actually, I guess another random is that although we did not have blueberries, we had so many trees at home — apples, pears, walnuts, figs, cherries plus orchards of peaches, nectarines, apricots, oranges, mandarins etc. that I was not short on fresh fruit growing up! Just no blueberries!

    1. We’re opposites. I grew up picking wild blueberries (and strawberries). But I never, ever had fresh cherries until I was into my teens. Same with figs!
      I also didn’t have a Brussels sprout (which I love now) until I was in my late teens.

  3. Interesting! I don’t have any near-death experiences (other than driving on I-95 in South Florida.) Your mudflats story is scary! And those are fascinating stories about the sandpipers. Why red, I wonder?
    Lately I’ve come to realize a weird fact about myself, which is that I hate taking showers. Don’t worry, I do it! But I make it as fast as possible. It just seems so uncomfortable and inconvenient to get wet and then have to dry off again. I don’t remember always feeling like this, but it’s come about over the last several years.
    About having water splashed on your face… it seems like I’ve read somewhere that it causes some sort of physiological reaction, but I can’t remember the details. So there could be a real reason you don’t like it- I’ll be interested to hear if anyone else feels that way.

    1. In nature red tends to be associated with aggression. Maybe for sandpipers a predator of theirs is red? I don’t actually know for sure (I suspect I was told at some point), but colour intimidation is common for all sorts of animals (and of course colour features heavily in attraction, too)!

      I hate drying off after a shower – that’s one reason why having longish hair is such a nuisance, plus unless I’m hopping in PJS, it’s a nusiance to get into clothes, too and I’m always too lazy to get fully dry, but that means my clothes “stick” to wet skin. But I love the sensation of showering. Baths I hate…

      Glad to know the water-in-my-face isn’t some crazy quirk. I have to physically steel myself if I ever have to have water splashed onto my face. Thankfully, it’s not a very common issue!

  4. Oh my that mudflat experience sounds scary. I was an 80s kid and I remember quicksand featuring prominently in the cartoons- I was unreasonably worried about encountering it in real life.

    1. I remember being really scared of quicksand as a kid, too. I think from reading the Swiss Family Robinson?

  5. I also dislike the overhead light in our bathrooms and definitely avoid it. So in our master bath, we have the main overhead lights by the sink, and then a single recessed light over the shower. I NEVER shower with the light over the shower on. My first choice is to have no lights on (which is what I do during the day, when some light comes in the window), or I will turn on a flameless battery operated candle that sits on the back of the toilet. It gives off enough light that it’s not pitch black in there, but will still be pretty dark. If I shower in the basement bathroom, I’ll either do the battery operated candle trick, or I turn the lights over the shower off and just turn on the main lights by the sink there, too. We also have dimmers installed in basically every room possible, so if I have to use the main lights (even like when I’m getting ready in the bathroom), I’ll usually slide the switch down so it’s not SO bright.

    I’m also totally all about lamps in all rooms. We have under cabinet lighting in the kitchen, and our overhead lights are on dimmers there too. So I often just have the under cabinet lights on and maybe the stove light on. In our bedroom, I always have the bedside lamps on, no overhead light. And in my office- same. 2 lamps, Definitely no overhead light, as my office doubles as our laundry room and the overhead lights are very bright! I could never sit and work in there with those bright lights on.

    1. I thought I’d be alone on this so I am glad to hear it’s not just me! It doesn’t bother me at all in our basement shower, but it’s pretty shadowy.
      I also prefer lamps (in a “soft white” lightbulb); overhead lights can be so harsh!

  6. That mudflat story is scary! But I had never heard of a “mudflat”! Your background/knowledge base would be endlessly interesting Paul! He’s obsessed with Wild Kratts and loves to share random facts with me. This morning he told me a baby possum is the size of a bumblebee at birth! He also told me that a baby panda is the size of an ice cream sandwich but that is an odd reference so I wonder if something got lost in translation!

    I don’t mind splashing water on my face as long as it’s warm. I HATE cold water. My coworker was telling me how her son will lay in a snowbank. It has some positive benefit to your body? Or he’ll take cold showers? I shudder just THINKING about that. The lake I run around has an area in the ice that they keep open for those who want to do what we call a “polar plunge” year round. I think that is bananas. I would never do a polar plunge. It sounds horrible. Phil has done it twice and would do it again but he is heartier than I am!

    So something odd’ish about me is that I can not handle being super dirty, like you were in that photo. I must have a sensory sensitivity or something? I shudder thinking of being covered in mud which is why I’d NEVER do something like a tough mudder where you get covered in mud. Ugh, I’m shuddering as I type this!

    1. Levi did a big project on pandas last year and I also heard the ice-cream sandwich stat, so this must be a frequently used comparison!?

      I did cold showers for a few months several years ago; my iron levels were low and I was struggling SO much with energy. I did it faithfully for a few months. But then I just couldn’t keep doing it. It did give me an energy boost, but I am just so naturally cold that I dreaded it so much. I will say it did get so much easier. I started with 30 seconds and by the end could do 3-5 minutes. The after-effect COULD be nice (like a rush of endorphins and energy), but sometimes I just felt really, really cold.

      I know they talk a lot about cold/heat therapy for winter blues; Nordic cultures do a lot of cold water plunges followed by time in a sauna. I DO think if I had a sauna I might be slightly more tempted?

      Ha! I didn’t mind getting that dirty when I only had to worry about myself (and all the vehicles we used for research were “rough” enough that we didn’t have to be meticulously clean before leaving the mud and we had access to cleaning facilities at the lab)…but now I would HATE it. The kids used to do 3 week stints in the woods with their preschool and every day I would spend so much time cleaning out their gear. I invested in great stuff that could be washed easily, but it was just SO muddy and I hated, hated, hated handling cold, wet stuff covered in mud. They, of course, loved all that time outside in the mud.

  7. I see Abby all grown-up in that last picture of you – what a striking similarity!

    That mudflat story sure is scary. Wow. It reminds me of the scene in The Never-ending Story when Atreju’s horse Artax dies in the Swamp of Sadness. So traumatic. I am sure glad you were rescued šŸ˜‰
    I love hearing about your research work. You definitely had an interesting time during college. But I truly think someone could have warned you about ‘red’ being a big NO-NO.

    It’s funny, I actually enjoy holding my head/face under the showerhead when I shower, submerging it is another story… but I can see how others might feel different about it. šŸ˜‰ Related to water/showering: I don’t like taking bath. I don’t have patience to sit in hot water for longer than like 2 minutes. I probably haven’t taken a bath in over a decade.

    1. People comment all the time how much I look like my mother, so I suspect Abby will follow the same path.

      I also hate bathing. I’ve done it less than 10 times over the last decade; mostly when I was pregnant. It has been at least 2 years since I last took a bath.

  8. What a scary experience! I almost drowned in a pool once and I remember thinking that it wasn’t so bad to go out this way. Ha! I’m a bit traumatized by water, though.

    I think Abby looks a lot like you do in that photo when you’re tossing the bird in the air! Family resemblances are REAL!

    1. Yikes! Drowning scares me so much. Iā€™m a strong swimmer, but Iā€™m still very careful in the water because it seems so fraught with potential dangerous issues. I never, ever swim alone!

      Iā€™m so glad you did NOT drown ā¤ļø

  9. What a scary experience! I almost drowned in a pool once and I remember thinking that it wasn’t so bad to go out this way. Ha! I’m a bit traumatized by water, though.
    I think Abby looks a lot like you do in that photo when you’re releasing the bird in the air! Family resemblances are REAL!

  10. Ha these post are always so random and fun.
    The mudflat experience sure sounds scary. How did you come up with swimming through it?

    I don’t have any fancy fancy stories to share. Or maybe that I have changed a glass eye. And I am neither doctor nor nurse.

    Oh and here is another fun one. I am a certified incontince consultant…

    1. I don’t remember when we decided swimming was the best option; the progress to get out of it was very slow so I’m sure at first I didn’t think it was going to work.

      That is a VERY crazy fact. I have definitely never changed a glass eye!

  11. Although I enjoy showers and baths, I hate being wet. I try to avoid swimming because of this! I just hate the sensation – but being submerged is ok. I also got stuck in quicksand once, in the Rio Grande riverbed between Mexico and the US. That’s a story for another day šŸ™‚

    1. I don’t love swimming, but mostly because I get SO cold. But in that context, I don’t mind getting wet/submerging my face. I do hate peeling off a wet bathing suit, though. Ugh. Such an awful feeling.

      That sounds like a scary story, Sarah!

  12. It’s so cool to read and see pictures of your research days. What cool experiences! That mudflat experience would certainly have scarred me for life – my blood pressure is rising just thinking about it!

    1. It’s funny, I remember being a bit nervous the next time I went to that particular mudflat, but I don’t remember lingering on the “near-death” experience for long. Also, moving forward, we always carried rope with us when we were working at this site which felt like a logical precaution…

    1. Unless I shower in the morning, I never wash my face. Once a day is all I can handle (preferably while in the shower which feels like less work).

  13. The mud flat made me think of quicksand. From all the movies in the 80s, you would think we were all in peril of dying via quicksand. You’re the only person I know who has gotten close to that!

    1. I was born in the 80s so must have missed these movies; I don’t remember quicksand featuring heavily in media, but I do remember a scene from The Swiss Family Robinson (I think?) that involved quicksand.

  14. I do not like water on my face either. I toss my towel over the shower door so I can wipe it off.
    That mudflat incident would have terrified me!

    1. I honestly can’t remember being overly traumatized once it was all over. Maybe I was too young to be scared. I feel like an incident of this magnitude would leave a much bigger impression on me now?

  15. I am so delighted by your bird expertise! The mud flat near-drowning sounds terrifying, though.

    I have been fortunate enough to not have any really close encounters with death (YET), but I was in a very serious ATV accident when I was in middle school that I’m pretty sure I was lucky to walk away from. There was also a very harrowing incident in high school when I disrupted a nest of wasps while clearing trees. But overall I have been extremely lucky and have never even broken a bone (YET).

    I do not like being wet, period. I mean, I enjoy a nice leisurely shower as much as the next person but if I never had to take one I’d be fine with that. And I really dislike bathtubs and pools, and the ocean terrifies me. I am not a huge fan of lakes either, but will swim or water ski in the lake near my parents’ house simply because I have been going there since I was wee. Plus, it is gorgeous glacier fed water so it feels cleaner than other bodies of water. The lakes/ocean thing is mainly about my fear of unseen things. The pool thing is because I imagine it is a soup of other people’s boogers/scabs/hair and that grosses me out (yes, chlorine, I KNOW; still gross). But I also just don’t enjoy being wet.

    1. I wouldn’t want to give up my showers, but never because I like the sensation of being wet, but because they are one of the best ways for me to get “thawed out” if I get overly cold.

      I find lakes, pools, and oceans all too cold. Being cold and wet is literally the worst combination of events I can imagine, so I swim very infrequently now. Which is a bit sad because as a I kid I LOVED being in the water. I was impervious to the cold then, and now I’m like a shaking leaf. It takes me 20 minutes to get to my knees. I hate wet hair (such a nuisance) and getting dressed if I’m not fully dry feels awful. Plus, peeling off a wet bathing suit is icky, too.

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